A WOMAN who used a disabled parking badge belonging to a dead person has been ordered to pay more than £1,000.

Sarah Ross, 45, who gave her address in court as Glenleven, Glenferness Avenue, pleaded guilty at Bournemouth Crown Court after she was caught using a blue badge for the disability parking scheme, which had been altered to show it was current, despite being expired.

The recipient of the original blue badge had passed away several years previously.

Ross’ actions have been branded “appalling” by a Dorset disability charity.

A member of the public reported the offence to a parking officer and there was a subsequent investigation by the Bournemouth Borough Council’s Corporate Fraud Team.

Ross was also ordered to pay a £500 fine, a contribution towards council costs of £500 and a £15 victim surcharge at the court hearing.

The level three offence can have a maximum fine of £1,000, but as a first offence Ross was fined half the maximum and ordered to pay nearly all council costs.

After the case, Nikki Haswell, who works for the advice service at Poole-based Diverse Abilities Plus, said: “It is appalling that motorists abuse the scheme.

“Despite the increased number of bays for those that have a disability, there are still not always car park spaces available.

“Therefore, when a person has used a badge illegally, those that have a genuine need for a disabled car park space are even less likely to be able to find a vacant bay which may mean a wasted trip, which is very frustrating and a waste of time and money.”

Cllr Anne Filer, cabinet member for corporate efficiency at the council, said: “To those people who attempt to use blue badges fraudulently, this conviction sends an important message – you will not get away with it.

“The vast majority of Bournemouth residents are honest and truthful in the way they claim and use blue badges.

“The public will be reassured that our professional team of officers will seek out and prosecute this minority of fraudsters.

“Over the coming months, the council will conduct more pro-active exercises around Bournemouth in order to identify further offenders and ensure the system not being abused.”

Ross told the Daily Echo: “I have been fined and prosecuted and that is the end of it. The matter is dealt with.”